US Renewable Energy Industry Reacts to Stimulus Package Passage

President Barack Obama signed more than US $70 billion in renewable energy and energy efficiency measures into law on Tuesday as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bill passed both houses of Congress at the end of last week by votes of 246-183 and 60-38 respectively.

RenewableEnergyWorld.com broke down what the renewable energy industry can expect out of the bill last week. Now the industry is voicing its reaction to the bill.

“The provisions of the economic stimulus bill will put steam back into the engine of geothermal industry growth,” said Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA). “We estimate that the geothermal power industry has doubled its workforce in the U.S. in the past two years, and the economic stimulus bill provides a framework of support that will continue if not accelerate growth in this industry adding tens of thousands of new jobs with even greater positive effects across the economy.”

The wind industry has been calling for many of the changes to the tax credits that the bill includes. The U.S. wind energy industry in 2008 installed about 42% of all the new electric generating capacity added that year and created 35,000 jobs, primarily in construction and manufacturing. The renewable energy measures in the stimulus bill will help sustain that momentum and will encourage additional clean energy investment and job creation.
 
“The U.S. wind energy industry is grateful to Congress and the President for taking this important step to secure an economic recovery that includes a strong focus on renewable energy,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Assocation (AWEA). “We are thankful to be called upon, and ready to deliver.  Wind power will create jobs by the thousands today and help build the vibrant, clean energy economy of tomorrow.”

Vestas’ Group Government Relations senior vice president, Peter Brun pointed to the stimulus package as a large step toward long term market stability for the U.S. wind industry.
 
“This is the first time in the US we have ever seen such long regulatory stability in terms of a multi-year Production Tax Credit until 31 December 2012. Previously, the PTC extensions were only one or two years constituting big risk and uncertainty for both investors and manufactures like Vestas. So we regard this development as a major positive development in   
the U.S. market,” he said.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said the bill, which the Administration says will create or save more than 4 million total jobs, will create a host of jobs in the solar industry.

“The solar industry is poised to lead the new, clean energy economy and the strong solar provisions in this legislation will help give hundreds of thousands of out-of-work Americans a job that they can be proud of. The solar energy provisions in this bill will help create 60,000 jobs in the solar industry in 2009 alone and a total of 110,000 over the next two years,” Resch said.

Both Applied Materials and Oerlikon Solar reacted positively to the new 30% tax credit for facilities and equipment engaged in the manufacture of renewable energy-generating property, such as solar panels, containted in the bill.

“This bill does a lot for solar, and will create thousands of ‘green’ jobs just when we need them most,” said Mike Splinter, president and CEO of Applied Materials. “The manufacturing credit is a huge step forward to put Americans to work making solar panels so we all can benefit from clean, affordable renewable energy. I want to particularly thank Senator Jeff Bingaman for his leadership on this issue, as well Rep. Mike Thompson, Chairmen Baucus and Rangel, and the House and Senate leaders.”

Jeannine Sargent, CEO of Oerlikon Solar echoed Splinter’s comments.

“In particular, the manufacturing tax credit is an excellent first step to help generate some of the five million new green jobs President Obama has cited in his commitment to help transform our energy infrastructure from fossil fuels imported from abroad to clean energy manufactured and produced in America. With the initial $2 billion investment, our goal is to demonstrate the merits of continued support of the manufacturing sector as a key driver of economic recovery,” she said.

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